Browsing Articles Written by

Shannon DeFries

Hotel Marketing and the Impact of Video SEO

December 7, 2012 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing and the Impact of Video SEO Google has made a change to their algorithm that counts time watched on video as one of their ranking factors. This change brings with it an added importance on creating engaging video content and is just another indication by Google of how important video is and will continue to be in search. This also presents an opportunity for hotel marketers to use video SEO to drive organic rankings. The key here is the “time watched on video” and not the number of clicks. Create a video that keeps viewers watching and Google will see this as an indicator of quality content and push the video to the top of search rankings. According to Eric Meyerson, YouTube’s head of creator marketing communications, “YouTube viewers watch a lot of video -- over 4 billion hours a month at last count. But the average household also watches several hours of video per day on their TVs. So for YouTube to become the most important media in more people's lives, we've got a lot of growing to do,” he said. “Over the past few months we have made some changes to YouTube to encourage people to spend more time watching, interacting, and sharing with the community. To support this, we’ve updated what we call video discovery features, meaning how our viewers find videos to watch via search and suggested videos. These changes better surface the videos that viewers actually watch, over those that they click on and then abandon.” In addition, YouTube Analytics has released a new metric called Estimated minutes watched, which further supports the attention to this metric. Hotel marketers should focus on creating engaging video that highlights the details and amenities that make those hotels unique. Video has the highest engagement compared to images or text. Video can be used to better communicate details regarding a certain hotel. Also, video SEO is a key component of a vertical SEO search strategy.   About Tambourine: Tambourine is an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1986. The Company creates inspiring digital experiences and engaging campaigns that produce measurable results. Based in South Florida and New York City, Tambourine recently received Gold and Platinum Adrian and Magellan awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competitions, representing this year’s top marketing campaigns from across the global hospitality industry. We are the instrument many of the world’s most advanced marketers use to create a steady beat of traffic and revenue growth. We provide a 360º integrated marketing program that delivers predictable ROI and a sustainable sales and marketing rhythm for your brand.

Taxing Travel – Is it good for business?

November 19, 2012 • By
Travel remains one of the most heavily taxed activities in the US, even though most cities try hard to encourage visitors and tourism. Travelers don't vote where they travel, so cash-strapped cities and states continue to tax hotel rooms, rental cars, and airports. Many times the money is used not only to build and run facilities for travelers such as convention centers and airports, but also is used to help finance local coffers to pay for sports stadiums and youth ball fields. In some cities, taxes on visitors even help fund arts facilities and school systems. The impact can be significant - travelers pay taxes that total 57% more than if they just paid the general sales tax. Car-rental companies and airlines report that heavy taxes on their services have reduced demand. With rental cars, some consumers, particularly leisure travelers, are discouraged from travel or choose smaller cars to reduce the price for a rental where taxes can sometimes exceed the car cost. In this case, taxes have clearly made an impact on consumer behavior. A survey last year by the US Travel Association found that 49% of respondents had altered their plans because of high travel taxes, such as staying in less expensive hotels and spending less on shopping and entertainment. 10% of the people surveyed say they changed city choices for trips because of taxes. Travelers in some destinations have chosen to book hotels outside of city centers, renting cars at non-airport locations and eating meals away from airports and hotel restaurants in order to decrease expenses. These behaviors generally result in marginal savings and end up being more trouble and inconvenience than they are worth. Among major destinations, the tax on a day's travel spending can range from as little as $22.21 in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach, FL, to as much as $40.31 in Chicago. That is calculated by keeping the cost of hotels, car rentals and meals the same in each city so the difference reflects only the tax structure, not higher or lower travel costs. It's important to note that some cities that depend heavily on tourists, such as Honolulu and Orlando, have completely avoided imposing excessive taxes on visitors. Airlines say taxes have a significant impact on air travel as they substantially raise the cost of tickets. High prices deter buying; airline tickets are taxed at levels similar to alcohol and cigarettes. With cigarettes, the taxes are generally imposed to discourage use. Cigarettes are about the only consumer purchase taxed more heavily than travel. There are a total of 17 different taxes and fees potentially levied by federal government and airpots on airline tickets. Passengers pay a federal excise tax to help fund the DAA, a security fee to help fund the TSA, various fees for international inspections and fees charged by airports for passing through terminals. On a typical $300 domestic ticket with one connection, the airfare is $239, with taxes and airport fees at $61. That is more than 20% of the cost. To put it in perspective, a pack of cigarettes that costs $12 in Chicago has $5.67 in federal, state, county and city tax, about 47% of the cost. This year, the DOT began forcing airlines to include the taxes in any price quoted for airline tickets. Under pressure from consumers to show full prices, rental car companies began including taxes prominently when people book reservations, showing an estimated total price for each rental. Hotel companies are starting to display taxes more clearly: Marriott includes taxes in hotel price quotes when customers are prompted for their personal information such as name, address and credit card. Yet hotel companies say higher taxes don't have a big effect on bookings. That is one reason the taxes keep coming. Cities, counties and states have so far been able to raise more money without crimping business or angering local voters. When Chicago raised its portion of the hotel tax to 4.5% from 3.5% earlier this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel predicted continued increases in tourism, and so far he seems to be right. Chicago hotel occupancy rates are up slightly so far this year, according to Smith Travel Research. Interestingly, the tax increase is helping increase revenue that supports tourism, not deter it. The hotel tax increase in Chicago raised the total hotel tax rate to 16.4%. That includes a 2% tax to help pay for Chicago White Sox Stadium and 2.5% to help pay for the McCormick Place Convention Center. Chicago's rental car tax is even higher: the tax on a $56 one-day car rental at the airport raises the price by a whopping 23%.   About Tambourine: Tambourine is an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1986. The Company creates inspiring digital experiences and engaging campaigns that produce measurable results. Based in South Florida and New York City, Tambourine recently received Gold and Platinum Adrian and Magellan awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competitions, representing this year’s top marketing campaigns from across the global hospitality industry. We are the instrument many of the world’s most advanced marketers use to create a steady beat of traffic and revenue growth. We provide a 360º integrated marketing program that delivers predictable ROI and a sustainable sales and marketing rhythm for your brand. Learn more at https://www.Tambourine.com

5 Ways to Manage Your Hotel Marketing During a Natural Disaster

November 5, 2012 • By
Business is going well, you have a few weddings and a full house booked this weekend, airlift is up and BAM! Mother nature interferes with its own set of plans. Destinations (DMOs) and resorts in the Caribbean have been dealing with these types of events for years and still struggle at times, but Hurricane Sandy caught many Northeast and Mid-Atlantic hotels completely by surprise. Last week the Caribbean saw an 11.5% decline in occupancy over the same week last year according to STR Data. In New York City the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers had to cancel the team’s reservation because their hotel was still without power and decided to commute to Sunday’s game to play the Giants. Storms like Sandy have had a detrimental impact on the entire Travel industry from Maine to Jamaica. How you manage your organization’s announcements and procedures can have an even longer lasting impact on bookings and arrivals. So what can you do to mitigate revenue loss? Here are the top five things your marketing team should put in effect to prevent wasteful media spending or a social media #Fail: 1. Scale Back SEM Spending. If you are a destination or particular hotel in the storm’s path, chances are your operational efforts may be affected. But that doesn’t mean the resort won’t be open in 4 months when Joe Smith from Nebraska wants to come stay at your New York City Hotel. So how do you prevent wasteful pay per click spending? Scale back on regional broad based keywords, especially if you are a DMO.  Otherwise you will be paying for people looking for storm updates searching the region. You can also add keywords for vacations further out like “New York City Spring Hotel Rates”. Think Longtail. Lower all other bids, just to make sure you don’t go over budget while you are away from the campaign. If your site or property is not operational then pause completely. If you are in a region that is affected often by storms seasonally, consider having an emergency ad campaign already in place where you can pause normal activity and just turn on the auxiliary campaign. 2. Shift or Reschedule email marketing campaigns If the entire Northeast is without power, now isn’t the time to send them an eblast. While current or future guests should be kept in the loop with email updates, try to reschedule or change the geotargeting on any eblast efforts. 3. Put a protocol in place for ALL Announcements, internally and public wide.  Loose Tweets sink Fleets! It's important to keep incoming guests up to date with the latest information. However, an alarming announcement from a third party that has not been confirmed could cause a false alarm and prevent future bookings. Put a communication plan in place appointing a dedicated contact to communicate with guests, one with the press and your social media team.  If your social team isn’t informed they can’t respond to inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. This is important! 4. Double up on Social Media Management  Your social media management team needs to be in crisis management mode just like your PR team. Guests understand you can’t control the weather but you do control how your organization communicates vital info affecting their stay, and they will hold you accountable. If you do a poor job of communicating major changes or closures, your online reputation is vulnerable. Social media is a great way to communicate quickly and effectively with the outside world.  So have a preliminary plan in place.  This should be standard whenever your hotel or airport is under construction, has venue closures or has any events that disrupt or negatively impact the guest experience. If the social is managed well, it could be a huge opportunity to capture new fans and get great endorsements from past visitors sharing their positive experiences and sending well wishes, so capitalize on the opportunity to engage in positive dialogue about your organization. Don’t just wait for questions to come in, post regularly and look into software like Revniate, TrustYou or Review Pro. These platforms can help your team keep an eye on all review sites and manage responses in one place. 5. Announce Business As Usual  Once the storm passes, be quick to give an update via your social channels and where things stand.  If  operations  have  resumed, be quick to announce the good news. A simple “All is Well In Paradise”… with a great photo of  guests at the pool  goes a long way when reassuring  future guests that it's ok to book or keep their reservation. In times of crisis there are only so many things a Hotel Marketing team can control. But strong communication, great customer service and reducing spending waste are key elements that can impact your image and budget. About Tambourine: Tambourine is an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1986. The Company creates inspiring digital experiences and engaging campaigns that produce measurable results. Based in South Florida and New York City, Tambourine recently received Gold and Platinum Adrian and Magellan awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competitions, representing this year’s top marketing campaigns from across the global hospitality industry. We are the instrument many of the world’s most advanced marketers use to create a steady beat of traffic and revenue growth. We provide a 360º integrated marketing program that delivers predictable ROI and a sustainable sales and marketing rhythm for your brand. Learn more at https://www.Tambourine.com

Travel Industry Companies Bow to Gen-Y Demands

October 18, 2012 • By
Often criticized as spoiled, impatient and most of all entitled, more Millennials are entering the work force, and companies in the travel industry are jumping thru hoops to accommodate their demands with faster promotions, greater responsibilities and more flexible work schedules, much to the annoyance of older coworkers who many times feel they have spent years paying their dues to rise thru the ranks. Millenials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, are defined as those born in the 1980's and 1990's. Travel industry employers say concessions are necessary to retain the best and brightest of this generation as they bring fresh skills to the workplace: they are tech savvy, racially diverse, socially interconnected and collaborative. And smart companies realize they need to keep their employee pipelines full as baby boomers enter retirement. Gen Y workers are estimated to comprise more than 40% of the workforce by 2020, far outnumbering any other generation. Millennials shun bureaucracy and the lack of coworker communication, preferring to utilize their talents to the fullest. Some companies have eliminated middle management in order to give younger workers more exposure to projects. Some have even introduced unlimited vacation policies, which according to these companies has not been abused. When Millennials don't feel they are making a contribution to the company quickly, they move on. A 2010 Pew Research study found that while baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964, cited work ethic, respectfulness and morals as their defining qualities, Millennials chose technology, music and pop culture, and liberal leanings, as well as superior intelligence and clothing as their defining qualities, prioritizing lifestyle over salary. They foresee changing careers often during their lifetimes. With Gen Y workers firmly entrenched in the workforce, the future for resorts, destinations and the travel industry in general appears to be bright, as this generation is digitally savvy and connected to the travelers they will be marketing to. About Tambourine: Tambourine is an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1986. The Company creates inspiring digital experiences and engaging campaigns that produce measurable results. Based in South Florida and New York City, Tambourine recently received Gold and Platinum Adrian and Magellan awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competitions, representing this year’s top marketing campaigns from across the global hospitality industry. We are the instrument many of the world’s most advanced marketers use to create a steady beat of traffic and revenue growth. We provide a 360º integrated marketing program that delivers predictable ROI and a sustainable sales and marketing rhythm for your brand. Learn more at https://www.Tambourine.com